Y’all may be aware that I’m southern. Not Southern, capital S which involves the misguided use of battle flags and excessively short denim cutoffs. (Oh hush. It was the 80’s. What happened in the 80’s stays in the 80’s.) Being southern and having Southern family members, I grew up around a fair bit of drinking. For a time, I drank myself. Now the other half of my people (See? Only the southern talk like that.) are Yanks. Prohibitionist Yanks. Writers of famous screeds on the evils of devil rum and it’s sister the demon of drink. (That stuff is hilarious, actually).
Therefore, the first thing to hit me on reading Boozehound was how lacking in shame it all was. This guy, this Jason Wilson, he just travels around trying drinks? Hasn’t he been arrested for disorderly a lot? No? How does that work? And these people in these other countries – they have drinks together at dinner as a family? And this is a happy memory? It was a strange land indeed. I want to throw my arm around Boozehound‘s shoulder and scream in it’s ear how much I love it. Half my beer is probably going to end up on Boozehound’s jacket, but that’s ok. We’re likely at a Hold Steady concert and everyone is wearing some beer at the end of those nights. Boozehound is part memoir, part travel diary, part instruction manual and all love. Jason Wilson loves his booze, from the obscure to the common (but not so much the vodka) and all points in between. He wants you to love it too, to have the chance to sample the sort of things our forefathers sampled before our forefathers became Methodist ministers. He is to spirits what Alice Waters is to fresh food, an advocate and a lover. Maybe we’ll call it the Slow Drink movement.
Wilson would like you to stop judging a drink by it’s radioactive qualities (looking at you TGIF) and start thinking about how it tastes, what it reminds you of, how it enhances your life. He is not so interested in waking up smashed (although a few Lady Gaga tunes on the Karaoke are fine by him). Reading the history of some fine alcohols made me realize how little I knew about them and how what I drunk in high school hardly compares to what my grandfather sat down with after work. (My grandmother was partial to a creme de menthe.) From talking about booze’s actual medicinal qualities (slight as they may be now) to the evolution of overpriced fruity vodkas, Wilson held my interest. I couldn’t read Boozehound in one sitting, anymore than I could knock back a bottle of Boone’s Farm these days. There is just too much content in Boozehound. It needs to be taken a chapter at a time as the mood strikes. I can’t say I’m going to resume imbibing (I want to keep that S a lower case one) but I found myself wishing I knew a friend with a well stocked bar at the end of every chapter.
- Warning: contains recipes. May induce drinking in all readers. The surgeon general probably frowns on this. Not for use by those under age or trying to hold onto lower case status.